I recently posted a question on my FB page, “What one piece of advice would you give to your 13-year-old self?” The responses were quite moving (with the exception of the odd-man-out who unabashedly stated, “Hit on more girls.” Oy. Clearly not one of my peeps. A good reminder to check out all friend requests.) There were some wonderfully practical and humorous weigh-ins like “Floss.” and “Wear sunscreen.” Most, though, spoke of trying to assure their vulnerable pre-pubescent selves that, essentially, “Everything will be okay. You’re ok just as you are.”

I saw an ad recently for a miracle beauty fix of some kind – the kind that costs money but requires zero effort; that promises a significant change in your physical appearance, which will then, undoubtedly, make everything better. When I was 13, I was a sucker for these solutions. Every month I would dutifully comb through Seventeen Magazine, believing that if I could just get the right outfit, shoes, hairstyle, skin, figure, make-up, “look”, my geeky pre-teen life would surely shift from surviving to thriving in the hard knocks world of adolescence.

If I were to offer one piece of wisdom to my 13-year-old self it would be the same reminder that I give to my 54-year-old self now: Real change comes from within. It can’t be bought in a bottle or a store. It takes time and commitment and rigor and compassion. It comes from changing the inside not the outside. This is, paradoxically, why I’m a little fanatical about going to the gym these days. I love the strong woman that’s being revealed to me as I get a little more robust every day. I love the determination that comes out in me; the palpable connection to my own fire and vitality.

I started going to the gym two months ago with the goal of losing a few pounds. They haven’t been lost yet. But I have found a renewed sense of myself, a new community, laughter, courage and enthusiasm. I love these parts of myself. So, despite the fact that my outer self hasn’t changed in any remarkable way, I will continue this devotion, at least for now, because the real change… is happening within.

Happy Holidays to you and yours. May 2019 bring you an abundance of health, love, time and resources. May you have everything you need to be who you want to be and to do the things you love to do.